Cuba Defeats Hanshin Tigers in Tune-up

Frederich Cepeda drove in two of Cuba’s three runs with a bases loaded single in the fifth inning.

HAVANA TIMES — Team Cuba played its next to the last pre-World Baseball Classic exhibition game on Wednesday defeating the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese professional league by a score of 3-2.

A three-run fifth inning reversed a 2-0 deficit, thanks to a two-run bases loaded single by Frederich Cepeda and a sacrifice fly by Jose Dariel Abreu, reported

The Japanese squad took the lead in the first inning of Odrisamer Despaigne on a two run homer by Matt Murton. The righhander got the hook and was followed by Yander Guevara who tied up his rivals bats for 3.1 innings.

Lefty Norberto Gonzalez came on in the fifth and picked up the win after Cuba’s rally in the bottom of the inning. Other Cuban hurlers seeing scoreless relief action were left Darien Nuñez, righty Diosdani Castillo and closer Vladimir Garcia who got the save.

On Thursday the Cuban team travels to Fukuoka where they will play their last exhibition game on Friday March 1st against the Yomiuri Giants.

Group A of the World Baseball Classic III begins on March 2nd with host Japan playing China.  On March 3rd Cuba opens against Brazil.  The islanders then play China on March 4th and close with Japan, winner of the first two Classics on March 6.  Two of the four teams will move on to the second round of play.

See the complete WBC schedule in the four first round groups.